Indonesia's help sought in saving Sabah's rhinos

Indonesia's help sought in saving Sabah's rhinos
Tam, a Sumatran rhino in Sabah's Tabin Wildlife Reserve in 2012. Tam is one of three captive rhinos in the wildlife reserve, but all three rhinos cannot breed naturally because they have reproductive problems.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

KOTA KINABALU - Saving Sabah's endangered rhino from the brink of extinction has become a very important project for the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

Its minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar wants to enlist Indonesia's help.

Indonesia is the best choice because some of these creatures are in the wild over there.

Dr Wan Junaidi will bring up the possibility of a rhino breeding programme at a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart, Siti Burbaya, the Forestry and Environment Minister soon.

"We hope to work with Indonesia for a joint study in the conservation of the species," said Dr Wan Junaidi in Sandakan yesterday after meeting with fuel suppliers and transporters in the east coast.

He added that there were no more sightings of rhinos in the wild in Sabah.

Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said they were still hopeful that more of these reticent animals could eventually be discovered.

He said World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) camera-traps recorded two rhinos in the wild in central Kalimantan, an area these animals were thought to have gone extinct.

Any discovery of more rhinos in Sabah will likely be at the Danum Valley or Tabin conservation areas.

Dr Sen, the department's wildlife veterinarian, said the rhinos in the wild would be rescued and placed at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the east coast Lahad Datu district.

There are three rhinos at the sanctuary, a male named Tam Tam and females Puntung and Iman. However, all three rhinos cannot breed naturally because they have reproductive problems.

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